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Young people paint a picture of health

17 March 2010

Weighing Scales

Youth homelessness and eating disorders are two areas of health highlighted by young people in Cardiff as part of a digital technology project to create accessible short films about public health issues.

Designed to engage more young people in research into the publics’ health, the Picture of Health project was devised by the University’s Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), and is just one of the Centre’s areas of work to improve the quality of research in areas such as diet and obesity, exercise, sexual health and substance misuse.

The film making project brings together young people aged 15-18 from Cardiff Youth Service with undergraduates, postgraduates and support staff from the University to produce honest accounts of some of the health issues affecting young people today. Shot and edited by the young people the films will be showcased at Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, Cardiff on Wednesday 17 March, as part of a series of activities across the UK to mark the Festival of Social Science, run by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Man on street holding his head

Sixteen-year old Charlie from Cardiff Youth Service said: "Young people’s thoughts and views are often different to older peoples so it’s important that we get the chance to have our say on matters that are important to us. Being part of this project has meant that I have gained knowledge about film making and effective ways of presenting information, as well as getting involved in issues I feel strongly about."

Twenty-year old Undergraduate Sophie has been helping to support the young people. She believes the approach is useful in engaging an audience most at risk from the issues covered: "Young people seem to instinctively engage with this technology and many would rather get their information from the internet than books or professionals. The young people learn new skills and because the information is coming directly from them, it seems more honest and relevant to their peers."

Once completed, the films will be uploaded to the web with the aim of reaching wider audiences.

DECIPHer is now in the process of developing an advisory group made up of young people to further develop new approaches, such as digital, to engage young people. The event at Chapter Arts Centre will also be used to launch DECIPHer’s participation strategy which details how the Centre will work with young people in the course of its research into young people’s health.

The Festival of Social Science (12-21 March) is running alongside National Science and Engineering Week (12-21 March), and Brain Awareness Week (12-16 March), all of which are being marked at the University through a packed programme of events. From lectures, tours, debates and workshops people of all ages will be given the chance to get up close and personal with the latest in science, engineering, technology, the social sciences and more.